Instagram + Etsy are like two peas in a pod for a variety of reasons, but my favorite is the fact that they both have such large audiences primed + ready to buy your stuff. Sometimes I feel like Instagram was MADE for Etsy-- that’s how well these two platforms go hand in hand :)
When I first started out my Instagram, one of the things I used to struggle the most with on Instagram was the idea that if I wasn’t pushing my product in each post, then what was the point (maybe you can relate...)?
I would post pictures of #littlehighbury users on my Instagram, or perhaps an inspiring motherhood quote, but no matter how long and hard I worked to get that “perfect” caption or photo angle, those posts didn't always equate to sales, and that was freakin' discouraging. Especially when there are a gazillion other things that you could be doing instead of wasting your time on fruitless marketing.
Here’s the thing to remember (and keep remembering when the going gets tough!)-- you’re building up a loyal following, NOT an immediate buy-in.
I can tell you 100% from real-deal Instagram marketing experience that Instagram is great for selling products--you absolutely can sell TONS of product by having an Instagram account. I've sold over $700 worth of product in just a couple of hours simply from using Instagram. So yes, it works :)
The catch? You have to lay the foundation first.
THE #1 THING YOU MUST DO
YOU MUST SHOW UP CONSISTENTLY ON INSTAGRAM
Not constantly, but consistently.
No matter how clever your wording or beautiful your photos, without building up that consistency (which will lead to a strong following), you’re going to be leaving money on the table that you didn't even know you were missing.
You can’t be hit and miss on Instagram and expect consistent results. This one was so, so hard for me because you can’t always see the direct correlation between your consistent posts + sales (you know what I'm talking about, don't you?!). I would get super Instagram motivated and be consistent for 3-4 days and then slump my shoulders and give up when I didn’t see that spike in sales.
But here’s the thing--you want your customers to trust you. It’s a heck of a lot easier to trust a company that is transparent in their business + showing up on a daily basis-- they’ll be able to see what you’re all about and you’ll be able to hit home the message that you’re the real deal and worth their hard-earned dollars.
If you’re just showing up to announce sales or contests, you’ll still be able to grow an Instagram account, but you better believe that the people you’ll be attracting are going to be the people that only care about getting a major discount on your product or--better yet-- getting it for free in a contest. These are generally NOT the kind of followers you want because they are not going to value you or your product.
So take your followers on a journey with you-- post a little something everyday whether it’s lifestyle, product, promotion, behind-the-scenes-- whatever. With each post you’ll be building up a little bit more trust.
And trust = sales. Every. Single. Time. You wouldn’t purchase a product from a company you didn’t think would live up to their end of the deal-- so don’t expect your customers to either.
Show them you’re the real deal-- and that you’re human-- and get ready to watch the sales start rolling in.
So you know your'e supposed to be on Instagram consistently (whether that's 2x/day or 2x/week-- do what works for you!), but what the heck are you supposed to post about?!?!
MY INSTAGRAM SUCCESS FORMULA
It sounds weird, but there's totally a success formula out there for Instagram used by a lot of major brands and guess what? It works. It isn't a complicated one--it simply requires you to remember the following percentages: 40 - 40 - 20
1 | 40% of your Instagram content should be valuable content to your followers.
Things that fall under this category:
- Tips about your products (ie- a tutorial)
- Content from other (similar but not the same) companies (sharing is caring!)
- Sneak peak photos - behind the scenes
- Q + A posts
- Blog post links to your company blog
- Personal posts
The point of these posts is to show your audience that you are a human being and that you are here to help.
I think that sometimes we--as small business owners-- get lost within our businesses trying to appear as professional as we can, and by doing so, we lose our voice-- and the very reason our fans came to us in the first place.
People will ultimately choose to buy experiences, not products.
I cannot hit that home enough. There are a million people out there selling the exact same thing (or very similar to it) as you and THAT’S OKAY. Promise.
Case in point: I sell baby headbands on Etsy. There are over 300,000 listings that will show up in search if you type in “baby headband.” True story. But guess what? Even though I’m selling the same thing as (literally!) hundreds of thousands of people, I am STILL SELLING PRODUCT.
Because people have fallen in love with my shop’s story.
Here’s what I’ve got down on my Etsy shop’s “about” section:
// OUR STORY
Hi, I’m Morgan and I’m the founder of LittleHighbury, a baby accessories company with a determination to change the world. Our company was born when I gave birth to my daughter, Juliet, an event that turned my life upside down. I was seriously struggling with being a new mother to the point of shutting down entirely— I could barely eat or sleep, let alone enjoy my new daughter. I thought that this was simply the new me—that this was what parenthood was supposed to be like. It took me months to realize that these feelings were NOT normal and actually had a name—postpartum depression (PPD).
Looking for a way to cope with these feelings, I focused what little energy I had on starting up a small business in our basement studio office. Using my graphic design experience and my degree in business entrepreneurship, I set to work. Two months and a $300 loan (thanks mom!) later, LittleHighbury was born and we’ve never looked back.
// OUR MISSION
Whenever I think back on my experience of PPD I want to cry— not because it is so heart wrenching to think about (it is!), but because I, like so many women suffering from PPD, felt like I was a “bad mother” and that I “didn’t love my child” because of the feelings and emotions I was experiencing. Without knowledge of PPD and the resources out there, I simply figured that this was the new me and that I had better start getting used to feeling this way.
We’re here to change that.
With every purchase you make from LittleHighbury, you’ll be giving a new, struggling momma the greatest gift she could ever receive— hope. We’ll send her a care package in your name + donate a portion of the proceeds to various non-profit postpartum organizations across the globe to raise awareness.
// OUR PRODUCTS
All of our products are made in the USA from start to finish. We have sourced the softest 100% GOTS certified organic cotton fabrics and only use environmentally-friendly baby safe inks to print on our fabrics.
Thank you so much for stopping in! We sincerely hope you enjoy our products and the mission behind them!
I cannot tell you just how many people have written to me about how thrilled they were to purchase from my company because I had shared my story.
Whether you know it or not, your brand has a story, too! Why did you start your business? What do you hope to achieve? How do you create your products?
Whatever your story is-- OWN IT. Make it your own and make it work.
2 | 40% of your Instagram content should be from your audience
Set up a hashtag (mine is simply #littlehighbury) and encourage every single customer you have to use it. When you send out a follow-up email or message thanking them for their order (you aren’t doing that?! You should be!), let them know that you want them to tag you in their photos! Be sure to ask, however, for permission to use any photos tagged with your hashtag (or make it clear from the beginning that using your specific hashtag will automatically qualify them to be featured.)
Once you’ve got a bunch of #hashtagged photos and asked for permission, start plugging them into your social media calendar (note- I would recommend using the photos that are as much on-brand as possible so that you can maintain your Instagram style. This will become easier as you gain more and more followers :). Again, you’ll want about 40% of your posts to feature your product on your customers. It shows potential customers that you’re a legit company (hooray!) and also that people are buying-- and loving--your product!
Bonus tip! Another reason having your own business #hashtag is awesome because, hello! It’s FREE marketing (because now all their friends have seen your product, too!), but it builds their loyalty to your brand because they’ve shown that they’re already willing to make an effort by tagging you, so they’re invested in your success too (Your own instant cheerleaders!)
3 | 20% Promote your product!
Now to the fun part :) If you’re using this 40 - 40 - 20 rule, your customers are NOT going to feel bombarded by promotional material-- and you promoting your product will not only be expected, but it will be well received because you’ve shown them that you aren’t just there to sell product-- you’re there to pass along valuable content as well.
Promotion should include:
- Sales you have going on
- New styles + product releases
- Collaborations with other brands
In my mind, these are the most fun :) These are the posts where you’ll really start to see how all of your hard work + effort is paying off, and they usually will motivate you until it’s time to run the next one ;)
One thing I see over and over again with promotional posts on Instagram is, however, that shop owners are afraid to ask for the sale. They’ll hint around at the promotion “Just added new styles in the shop if you’re interested!” but they never ASK FOR THE SALE.
Here’s the thing: You’re a shop owner + your product rocks. If you’ve done the work and offered value to your customers, then when it comes time to promote your shop? DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR THE SALE.
Don’t just hint about it-- don’t add the new product to your shop and sit around and wait-- ASK FOR THE SALE.
“Hey babes! We just added xyz styles to our shop and just KNOW you are going to love them! So run--don’t walk!-- over to the shop (by clicking the direct link in our profile!) and snag one for yourself because you know you’re worth it ;)“
I love the caption above so much because not only does it convey the brand's personality, but it also directly asks for the sale. Consumers are open to the power of suggestion, so use that to your advantage!
So take a deep breath and ask for that sale, girlfriend. You’ll be glad you did ;)